What Should You Photograph In The Yukon Territory?

Northern Canada can seem mysterious, like the modern version of falling off the edge of the Earth, disappearing the moment you cross over the 60th parallel. That’s purely imagination, though. People do live in the Yukon and Northern Territories, and what’s more, they seem to love it.

Anthony DeLorenzo is a good example. He’s a photographer in Yukon’s capital and biggest city, Whitehorse, which has a population of about 28,000. “I live in Whitehorse, Yukon with my wonderful wife, Sierra, my not-so-wonderful dog, Starbuck, a bunch of cameras and a few too many bicycles,” his profile reads.

Anthony DeLorenzo

Originally from Ontario, he moved to Whitehorse in the mid-1990’s. What did he love about Yukon? “For me, the thing I like most is having so much access to the wilderness,” he says. “It takes me 5 minutes to bike downtown to work and yet I can head straight out from my back door on to awesome mountain bike trails. There are so many places to mountain bike, hike, paddle and generally explore. I also love the history of this place, which is what I often try to seek out and photograph.”

When asked which places in Yukon are his favorite to photograph, Anthony was stumped. “There are so many places this is a really tough question to answer. I’ve lived here for over 15 years and the list of places I want to explore just keeps getting longer.”

For a taste of life in Yukon, here’s a selection of Anthony’s photos, plus a few photography ideas if you want to visit the territory yourself.

1.  The Yukon River, in all seasons
The Yukon River was incredibly important during the Klondike Gold Rush. Now, it’s mainly a great place to fish, hike, and take some beautiful photos.

Ice fog on the Yukon River

Ice fog on the Yukon River

Yukon River

Yukon River

2. Abandoned mines
The Gold Rush has left a clear mark on Yukon. If you’re a fan of urban decay, then you’ll definitely love all the abandoned mines you can find in Yukon. Anthony names Montana Mountain and White Pass as incredible places for their mining history. “Even from the roadside the photographs can be spectacular but I like to explore the old trails and mining history of the area. It’s a special place and I’m often out there with my camera.”

Venus Mine near Carcross, Yukon

Venus Mine near Carcross, Yukon

Big Thing mine near Carcross, Yukon

Big Thing mine near Carcross, Yukon

Ore Bucket

Ore Bucket

3. Wooden cabins, old and new
Their history may be difficult to discover, but they’re still awesome to photograph.

Old cabin, Carcross, Yukon

Old cabin, Carcross, Yukon

Cabin at Lindeman Lake

Cabin at Lindeman Lake

4. Carcross Town and Desert
(Yes, there’s a desert in Yukon.)
Originally called Caribou Crossing, the town was named after the huge numbers of caribou that used to migrate through this area. (It was renamed in 1904 when the mail kept getting mixed up with the Cariboo Regional District in British Columbia.) Carcross is one of Anthony’s personal favorites. “The historic town, surrounding lakes and the world’s smallest desert are great places to take pictures,” he says.

Carcross, Yukon

Carcross, Yukon

The Carcross Desert is pretty close to the town. It’s actually just a series of sand dunes that formed around big glacial lakes that have since dried up, but its position so far north makes it a unique place to visit. You can even snowboard and cross-country ski in the desert during the winter.

Dunes in the Carcross desert, Yukon

Dunes in the Carcross desert, Yukon

Carcross desert

Carcross desert

5. The Annual Outhouse Race in Dawson City
It’s known as the “Great Klondike International Outhouse Race.” People dress up in costumes, go on scavenger hunts, and race around with DIY outhouses on wheels. This does actually happen. If you want to see it this year, visit Dawson City in August.

Dawson Outhouse

Dawson Outhouse

6. The wildlife
Bears, caribou, moose, wolves–there’s plenty of wildlife to see in Yukon’s vast wilderness. For more information about where and how to find particular wild animals, and how to behave once you’ve found them, download the Wildlife Viewing Guide on the Yukon government’s website. There are versions in English, French, and German. Also, if you want to bring your kids along, there’s a coloring sheet for children.

Fox in the Foxtails

Fox in the Foxtails

Caribou

Caribou

7. Miles Canyon
According to Tripadvisor, this canyon is the best place to visit in Yukon. However, that might just be because it’s close to Whitehorse, so more people end up visiting it. (Let’s face it: nothing is better than the Great Klondike International Outhouse Race.) It does have a cool suspension bridge, though, and it gives nice views of the Yukon River cradled between canyon walls.

Miles Canyon

Miles Canyon

8. The Signpost Forest
Ever since 1942, visitors to Watson Lake have been putting up signposts from their hometowns in this ‘Forest’. A U.S. soldier began the tradition when he spent time in Watson Lake recovering from an injury while working on the Alaska Highway Project. His commanding officer assigned him the task of repairing directional signposts, and when the job was finished, he added one more sign showing how far it was to his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Others added theirs, and the trend stuck. Now, the Forest has over 77,000 signs, with more put up each year, which is definitely worth a picture.

Signpost Forest

Signpost Forest

9. Mackenzie Mountains
This mountain range forms part of the boundary between the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Only two rough roads lead into the mountains, and both are on the Yukon side. One goes to a Tungsten mine, still in operation, while the other was part of a project during WWII to build a pipeline from the Northwest Territories into Whitehorse, Yukon. The pipeline is gone, but the Canol Heritage Trail still remains and has a reputation for being the toughest trail in Canada.

Needless to say, most people fly over the mountains. The view is spectacular and worth a trip just to photograph.

River

River

Ekwi River

Ekwi River – Or maybe this is the Intga, not totally sure. You can see the Canol road/trail in the bottom of the photo.

10. Kluane National Park
Yukoners visit Kluane National Park to ride horses, go rafting, bike on old mining roads, and fish trout, pike and salmon. It’s nestled in the mountains, so if you’re an expert mountaineer, you can also try out some of the challenging peaks and get magnificent views (and shots) of the glacier and ‘icefield’ landscapes. If you’re not quite that brave, you can go ‘flightseeing‘ instead, exploring the icefields and mountain peaks from a seat in a helicopter or little plane.

Sierra crossing Victoria Creek on the Cottonwood Trail

Sierra crossing Victoria Creek on the Cottonwood Trail

Joe and Sierra on the Cottonwood Trail

Joe and Sierra on the Cottonwood Trail

11. Dog sledding
It is the North, after all.

River Runner - Competitor in the River Runner 120 mile sled dog race heads down the Takhini River.

River Runner – Competitor in the River Runner 120 mile sled dog race heads down the Takhini River.

12. The Aurora Borealis
Or, if you’re visiting in the summer, you can go to the Northern Lights Space and Science Centre to see a panoramic video of the aurora and learn about the science and folklore surrounding it.

Fish Lake Aurora

Fish Lake Aurora

Fish Lake Aurora

Fish Lake Aurora

13. Quirky stuff you see along the way
Life above the 60th parallel has been known to get a little crazy.

Old pickup truck at Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon

Old pickup truck at Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon

Interested in visiting Yukon? A few tips from Anthony:
“The summer season is short! Interesting times to photograph are around the solstice (golden hour until midnight!) and mid-August to mid-September when the fall colors are out. The winters can be bitterly cold but they also offer interesting pictures so don’t overlook a visit in February or March. The Yukon is big and sparsely populated, so it’s not always easy to get around if you don’t have a vehicle available. Respect the land and especially the wildlife. Dress warm and carry bear spray!”

To see more of Anthony’s photography, check out his website or Flickr photostream.




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